Deiland is a game of farming amongst the stars, with players being given their own planet to grow crops, craft items, and eke out a peaceful life on. Having their own planet offers players some special intricacies to farm work, though, with space and the planet’s rotation allowing for some creative new cultivation techniques.
With Deiland’s Kickstarter just starting up, Siliconera spoke with Abraham Cozar, Designer for Deiland, to learn a little bit more about the useful aspects of players having their own planet to farm on, as well as the things players will be able to do with other galactic travellers who pass by.
Deiland gives players a tiny planet to live life on, rather than a town to live in. What drew you to give players a whole planet to themselves? How do you feel it makes the game special?
Abraham Cozar, Designer for Deiland – Our inspiration for the tiny planet setting came from the Little Prince novella. Everyone can conjure up in their head an image of a boy living on a tiny planet. It is a powerful image that takes us straight back to our childhood, and It is a concept that is not commonly found in many video games. It was our intention with Deiland to take that as our starting point – how a child would feel about living alone on this small planet, having to manage all the resources that nature can offer to survive and flourish.
So, for us, this little planet is the cornerstone of the project. It is what makes the game more special and it helps us to tell an interesting story that is completely original.
What challenges does it create to give players a planet that gives them room to do what they want, but isn’t so big it overwhelms them? What thoughts go into creating a space that feels right?
Choosing the exact size of the planet was something that we worked on a lot at the beginning of the project. We really wanted to get the size correct so that, on one hand, the player could feel the freedom of a sandbox game; and on the other, they would never lose sight of the fact that they were on a small planet. At any time, players can change the view to see the whole planet and to get their bearings (with such a short horizon it is a real challenge). In addition, we chose 4 reference points that remain throughout the gaming experience, helping us to orient ourselves: the house and the farmland, the lake, the Crystal altar and the mountains.
At the beginning of the game the planet is practically empty, it is the players through their actions, who decide how to give life and shape to their environment.
How did the unique aspects of space affect what you put into your simulation? How does being on a small planet floating among the stars affect the farming/crafting/etc?
Well, we have taken some artistic licenses with the simulation of space to enhance the gaming experience. On the one hand, the space backdrop does not move with the player’s camera (since the camera is in continuous movement and would, therefore, be too much of a distraction instead of just being a purely environmental element). On the other hand, the game also allows us to rotate the planet at any given time, even the clouds when rain approaches.
Placing the planet against the backdrop of this universe provides for interesting mechanics: day and night cycles, meteorite strikes, rain and storm events, etc. All of this enriches the game as it directly affects what we are creating: water makes plants and crops grow faster, meteor flames cause fires, the night attracts different types of enemies, etc. Furthermore, being in space means we can bring things from "off" the planet, such as seeds that fall from the sky or the characters that land in their spaceships.
What sorts of activities did you want players to be able to do on their home planet? How will players be able to make this space their own?
Oh, we always say that caring for a planet takes a lot of work, even when it’s such a small planet. Everything that is grown or built on Deiland depends directly on the player. And there are many activities that are closely related to natural processes: planting, gathering fruit, harvesting, cutting trees to get wood, breaking rocks to find minerals… But also other, more sophisticated tasks that depend on our evolution: fishing, taking care of animals (yes, there are sheep and chickens), making objects, preparing dishes or even magic potions with unexpected results. The player will feel as if they are at home from the beginning, since they are the ones who have to make all the decisions, as well as worry and be responsible for all actions that are being undertaken.
What kinds of visitors, helpful or hostile, will come to visit them on their world? Who will be coming to break up their lonely planet life?
The characters who visit play a fundamental role in the development of the game because, through them, we will find out who we are and what our role is in the universe where Deiland can be found. First, we will get to meet the explorer Mûn who will be the one to help us to take our first steps (she will also take us on adventures in faraway locations!). She is the second main character and will always be around when anything important is happening.
Players will also receive visits from other characters who are merchants. They will each have their own agenda, which we will have to learn to satisfy. However, we shall also come across evil characters, and others who are just out to trick us. We shall have to learn to deal with them accordingly.
Of course, one of the events we must always be wary of is monster attacks. These monsters have a hostile attitude. They are determined to attack us to steal our goods or eat what we have harvested. However, if we beat them, we will obtain articles we couldn’t get any other way.
You mention that players can leave the planet to go on adventures. What sort of activities will players get up to when they leave the planet? Where will they go and what will they do?
With the help of Mûn the explorer, we will visit places that are very different to Deiland (the planet). These adventures will have more of an exploratory component than a sandbox one (which is reserved for our home Deiland) through which we will meet other characters. For example, we’ll visit the north of the planet Ankora, the snowy region in which the Ank tribe resides. The Kickstarter campaign will help us create more off-planet locations than were originally planned for.
Deiland has a story to its planet-cultivating play. How will players work through the story from their planet? How will the story affect play?
Deiland is the setting for Arco’s story, a boy who must learn how to become the Prince of Deiland; this story has a beginning and an end. All is not peace and tranquility on Deiland. A shadow wanders in the absolute darkness of the universe. The shadow speaks through dreams to evil creatures, pressing them into its service, with the sole objective of finding children and their planets, to rob them of their power of their Crystals, and subdue them. This is the threat we have to face up to and which has a direct influence on Arco’s life and all those who become his friends.
With this, our first video game, we want to introduce a new universe. We have built a narrative which is much broader than we sketched out here. Our intention, if the player likes the game, is to continue creating more games in the Deiland Saga.